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Mental health of the armed forces another strike against localism

Andrew_murrison_mpDr Andrew Murrison is MP for Westbury, a Shadow Defence Minister and a former Surgeon Commander in the Royal Navy. He has drawn attention to the issue of the mental health of armed forces personnel through a written question:

"Dr. Murrison: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence if he will provide psychological screening for those who have served in the armed forces (a) one year and (b) five years after discharge; and if he will make a statement. [261047]

Mr. Kevan Jones: Health care for veterans is the responsibility of the health departments and NHS and the 2009 NHS Operating Framework includes a section on veterans' services. NHS services such as screening are not decided centrally but commissioned in line with local needs and priorities. MOD, DOH and the third sector are working together to raise awareness of military issues among civilian health professionals and administrators and NHS-led veterans’ mental health services providing best practice assessment and treatment in an accessible acceptable way are being piloted at sites across the country. These pilots will run for two years with independent evaluation and analysis. Lessons learned will inform future service planning. For those veterans with mental health problems living outside pilot areas and who have served in operations since 1982, the Medical Assessment Programme at St. Thomas's hospital, London, provides a mental health assessment by an expert in the problems that arise from military service. Treatment recommendations are then made to the GP."

Yet again I am bound to cite this case as an example of the ill-advised nature of localism. Why on Earth shouldn't the Government implement Dr Murrison's suggestion? It should be standard practice, and is emphatically not best decided on a local level.

Tom Greeves


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